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    hhcdave

    02/08/2014 - At Northwestern Report Card

      OVERALL GRADE: A-

      Bf-QY9tCYAAdvvy.jpg

    OFFENSE: B

    As have so many, this offensive report card is "the tale of two halves" as in the first half, NU scored a pitiful 16 points on 25% shooting and in the second, 37 points on 57% shooting.

    For the day, that was JUST good enough, with Nebraska scoring 53 points on 40% from the field.

    Really, the saving grace in this game can easily be traced to four things:

    1. The play of Walter Pitchford, who is our "Player of the Game" thanks to 15 points, 5 rebounds and 5-8 from the field (3-4 from downtown). "Pitch" also hit two GIANT free throws out of the under 4:00 timeout with NU tied and in a dog fight after an 8-0 Northwestern run.

    2. The play of Benny Parker, who is "runner up" in "Player of the Game" thanks to 5 points, 1 assist, 0 turnovers and 2 GIANT steals in 16 minutes.

    3. Continued back breaking shots from Terran Petteway, who was just 5-16 from the field but with some big time shots (most notably the three in the last minute). The Galveston, TX. native finished with his normal 17.

    And:

    4. Overall, NU shot JUST WELL ENOUGH from downtown, especially in the second half (7-20 for the game, but 5-9 in the second).

    I didn't think Nebraska had a bad game plan in the first half, although I liked seeing them isolate and use Alex Olah against Northwestern more in the second. The screen and rolls and curls all worked magnificently and so did isolating Petteway and Pitchford off of them. Love the 1-2 game.

    DEFENSE: A

    Nebraska has REALLY SURPRISED ME the last several games (sans Michigan) with its defense. I wrote just a few games ago that they were "not a good defensive team" and "one of the worst NU defensive teams we've seen over the last decade."

    Well, ever since then, they have been (outside of MU) damn good on the defensive end, and today was no different.

    First of all, the key to this game was holding Trey Demps to just 5 points on 2-6 shooting. I have watched Northwestern five or six times this year and he normally KILLS people down the stretch. NU's "assault" defense completely took him out of the game and held Drew Crawford (13 points) in check. I'm not worried about JerShon Cobb scoring 14.

    Benny Parker with two BIG TIME steals. Ray Gallegos with a BIG TIME charge after a turnover in the first half. David Rivers with a BIG TIME blocked shot. These are the defensive plays that stick out and helped save the game.

    The zone was even very effective the last four minutes of the first half with Nathan Hawkins at the to.

    One thing I'm noticing - I'm mentioning almost every single player as a contributor in this one. It truly was a TEAM win.

    REBOUNDING: B

    Rebounding was dead even - 31 apiece. NU held a 5-4 edge on the offensive glass, which is what we expected.

    Two costly missed rebound were when Shavon Shields had an easy one and just dropped it. This led to points. Petteway had the same thing happen in the first half.

    Petteway was again "nails" with 8 boards. This was a good game when he was third in line for "POTG" (behind Pitchford and Parker).

    BALL HANDLING: C

    Turnovers really hurt Nebraska in that dreadful first half. While the Huskers finished with a "solid" 12 for the game, 4 were in the first four minutes of the game and 9 in the first half.

    Petteway continues to turn the ball over at an alarming pace, as he finished with 5. Same thing with Tai Webster, who was virtually the only non-effective Husker today (1 assist, 3 turnovers and 0 points in 19 minutes). Nebraska must find a way to get Webster involved more - he DID have a nice drive today but couldn't finish strong around the rim. It would be nice to see his three point shot come back too, but we're in Ball Handling right now. Overall, he has been ineffective in recent games and turning it over way too much.

    Thank goodness for Benny Parker and the ability of Petteway to play the point, which was also key down the stretch.

    COACHING: A-

    I love to mention when Miles doesn't use his timeouts, so he had two left today and only used one "real" time out since the other two came to save possessions. Awful use of timeouts by Coach (I kid, I kid).

    To be serious, I saw virtually nothing to be upset about in this game. I think this is one of the top five games Coach Miles has overseen here at Nebraska from a tactical standpoint because:

    1. He substituted to perfection. Three Huskers had 2 fouls at the half; Petteway had 4 at the 7 minute mark; and none fouled out.

    2. He made BIG TIME second half adjustments with the screen and roll, and using Olah against Northwestern.

    3. He went to zone at the right time and otherwise, ran his defense to perfection.

    4. He went with the right combo at point down the stretch (Parker and Petteway).

    5. Some nice set plays drawn up, though most didn't work (such as the lob attempt to Petteway the first play out of the half). It was there, though.

    Only two negatives were not changing things up offensively a bit sooner, but that's kind of being ticky tack.

    Also, what the hell was that awful defense at the end of the half? You come out of a timeout, 3.9 seconds left, and you allow Crawford to catch the ball 80 feet from the basket but dribble within 35 feet and get a mostly uncontested three? That was pitiful and it was lucky that didn't go down or it could have changed the whole game.

    OVERALL GRADE: A-

    Nebraska won against a "white hot" team on the road and did it by being TOUGH. This is what we've been harping on Miles and company all season for away from the PBA - they aren't TOUGH. They don't create their own MOMENTUM. They don't play DEFENSE hard.

    All of that changed today - Nebraska played under control, made adjustments when necessary, played smart and won the game down the stretch.

    Now, the schedule sets up BEAUTIFULLY for an NIT appearance and an outside chance at an NCAA Tournament run BUT. BUT. BUT. Wednesday night is first. That has "trap game" written all over it. This is the game Nebraska ALWAYS loses the last 15 years. ALWAYS. Mid to late in the conference year, off of a big win, with a perceived "easier" game next and a chance to start going places. And ka-bam. We lose.

    WE MUST STAY FOCUSED and NOT count on this as a win until we show up and play a complete 40 minutes. STAY FOCUSED. PLAY HARD. And good things will continue to happen.

    PLAYER OF THE GAME: WALTER PITCHFORD

    2013-2014 PLAYER OF THE GAME RESULTS:

    TERRAN PETTEWAY - 11

    SHAVON SHIELDS - 3

    WALTER PITCHFORD - 3

    TAI WEBSTER - 2

    LESLEE SMITH - 2

    DEVERELL BIGGS - 1




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    I agree with everything you said here, but I wonder if coach not calling TO's has more to do with letting his team learn how to win and close out close games (especially on the road) on their own instead of depending on coach telling what they need to do all the time.  Like, he's playing the long game on that and would be willing to perhaps sacrifice a win or two this year (see Penn State) to reach that goal in years to come when road wins will be the difference between getting to the NCAA or not.

     

    Just a thought.

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    Here is the deal, over the past three games we have played two good halves of basketball.  That is two good halves out of a possible six.  Yet we are 2-1 including one road win.  What the heck can we expect when we actually put a full game(s) together.  Man, we are making progress, but we are not yet there. 

     

    In short, I am proud of a good road win.  But we were at best, a B team today.  I expect more, and I think we will soon be getting it.

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    Right on with the kudos to Benny Parker!  He was a vital part of the gritty defensive effort in the second half. Way too many

    negative comments in the past about him having nothing to contribute. - great game by Benny. Great win for the team - oh for do-overs with our home loss to Michigan and at Penn State. Keep it going now!

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    I agree with everything you said here, but I wonder if coach not calling TO's has more to do with letting his team learn how to win and close out close games (especially on the road) on their own instead of depending on coach telling what they need to do all the time.  Like, he's playing the long game on that and would be willing to perhaps sacrifice a win or two this year (see Penn State) to reach that goal in years to come when road wins will be the difference between getting to the NCAA or not.

     

    Just a thought.

    Man, 'niner, would he really do that ?  That sounds crazy.  Have you ever heard of a coach doing that ?

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    Nice write up Dave.  Lots of good points in there.  Agree on the defense as the first half wore down.   I'm yelling at the TV "what are you guys doing ??!! "

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    Guess I will be a bit of a naysayer here. I would give an overall grade of C+ to B-. That first half was putrid (D+ since Northwestern didn't put us away) and since it is an overall grade I take that into consideration. It was an ugly win but that's what you have to get against a team like Northwestern. Shields also could've had an easy defensive rebound late in game and just watched it hit the floor and Northwestern got it. There were also a handful of times where Nebraska had open players for easy baskets but went unnoticed by their teammate. And there were also at least 4 to 5 times that TP, Shields and Smith had excellent post up position with a smaller defender on them but the wing didn't get them the ball. One of those times was late in the game and TP had his man buried and Shavon looked at him but passed it back to top key. Huskers can't afford to miss easy opportunities if they want to get to next level.

    I know I'm being nit picky but the things I mentioned are easily fixed with effort and unselfishness. And on a final note I was concerned the missed free throws by Leslee and Shavon were gonna come back and bite us in the rear end.

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    Maybe I am just being nitpicky but we cannot keep having terrible first halves or it will catch up to us and cost us.  Where would we have been in the second half id Petteway AND Pitchford didn't get hot?

     

    I love that we are such a good basketball team that we can already view Illinois as a trap game.  :P I still remember when teams use to think of us as trap games.

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    I'm a little sad to see the rhymes go,

    After all, the huskers put on a solid show.

     

    I kid. Great win on the road.  Glad to see Walt put up some offensive numbers.  I think he's capable of doing this more often, so hopefully this is the start of a good run for him and the skers.

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